Is it Fair to Deport Veterans who Break the Law?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Deported Army veteran Fabian Rebolledo

As Congress continues to work on immigration reform, one group left out of the debate consists of U.S. military veterans who have been deported for breaking the law.


Many who have served in the armed forces over the years were not American citizens, but permanent legal residents. Some of them have been kicked out of the country after committing serious offenses, which federal immigration law requires. In many cases, the offenses were drug-related and many were non-violent crimes.


There are no official records revealing how many ex-warriors fall into this category. Immigration lawyers and Banished Veterans, which assists such deportees, say hundreds, if not thousands, have been sent packing in recent years.


These advocates argue that it is not fair to deport those who have fought for the United States. If they break the law, yes, have them serve time in prison. But don’t banish them from the country they now consider home.


This position is shared by Retired Air Force General Richard B. Myers, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. Myers told The Washington Post that deporting veterans “is not fair, and it’s not appropriate for who we are as a people.”


“One thing America has always done is revere its veterans,” he said. “To say to them, ‘You swore to support and defend the Constitution and put your life on the line for the rest of us. But you’re not a citizen. So, too bad. You’re gone.’ I just think that’s not us.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Deported Veterans: Banished for Committing Crimes after Serving in the U.S. Military (by Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post)

Deported Veterans want an Opportunity to Come Home (by Griselda Nevarez, VOXXI)

U.S. Veterans Deported after they Served (by Cindy Carcamo, Orange County Register)


Craig Shagin 10 years ago
I believe it is wrong to deport veterans; not as a matter of fairness, but rather because the de facto status they are in when in uniform is that of a United States national. When the uniform comes off, they should remain United States nationals. No other country that I am aware of conscripts aliens into their military. The United States has done this throughout its history. While a lawful permanent resident could choose to give up his status rather than be subjected to service, once he elected to report he was subjected to all the demands of loyalty as a United States citizen. I think there is a cognitive dissonance in demanding the loyalty of a national of someone, but not reciprocating by providing them the benefits of that nationality. In many instances, both aliens who became lawful permanent residents and citizens born here contribute less to the country's well being than the benefit they are bestowed by living here. I believe the right analysis of this issue is not to ask whether any one individual "deserves" to be here, but ask whether as a class, members of the armed forces should be treated as United States nationals. Since this is precisely how we treat them when in uniform, this, in my judgment should not change when the uniform comes off.

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